Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowy Saturday

erica 'Kramer's Red'

Climbing hydrangea

Young stewartia

Yucca looking cold and out of place

This sculpture is overgrown in the summer but adds a funny element to the winter garden.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Cold Hen

Love the reddish winter tint on the hen and chicks in this shallow centerpiece planter. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Simple Round Trough

round trough 16 x 16 x 8"H

I've made 5 or 6 of these little (for me anyway) troughs.  I bought a 12" diameter sonotube from Home Depot and cut it into 6" lengths on my table saw.  To cast a trough, I filled each 6" high piece of tube level with sand, then pattycaked the hypertufa mix around that core.  The troughs are cast upside down, with a 2" piece of cardboard tube as a drainage hole.  Since the sides of the tube are plumb, the wet hypertufa mix tends to slump away from the core as I near the top.  To stop the slump, I pack the hypertufa really hard with my hands and then wrap 6" shrinkwrap as tightly as I can around the whole form.  It's not much, but it's just enough to hold the concrete until it starts to cure.

Like most of my troughs like this, I let these sit for 48 hours before working them with a wire brush and scraper.  After that, they are sealed in plastic for 30 days to cure.

One day when I was demolding one of these troughs, the wet sonotube came out in one piece (a rare event).  It was kind of an interesting snowman shape so I let it dry instead of pitching it. I used it as a core again the next week, resulting in the trough in the front of the picture below.  It's a weird shape, but maybe it just needs the right plants.  In fact, that's probably true of all of my troughs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Winter That Wasn't

jasminium nudiflorum

The winter jasmine above usually blooms in early March.  It started blooming in early December this year due to the warm temps.  It's gorgeous and I'm happy to see it in these dark (in more ways than one) days, but I still worry about not having winter.  I've got alliums coming up, hellebores starting, and today I noticed the witch hazel is tentatively opening two months early.  Yikes.

Below the jasmine are a few other interesting things in the winter garden.

love the yellow against the gray deck railing

 this Home Depot cotoneaster is reliably loaded with berries

 a pink erica x darleyensis (left) and erica x darleyensis 'Kramers Red'

a near-black hellebore from my fab neighbor Ray (thank you again)
notice the buds at ground level, just waiting

A constant winter bloom in my yard: the white containers sheltering the alpines (drabas, lewisias, saxifrages, etc) that hate the winter wetness

Not attractive, but necessary

See you in spring, friends.  Stay dry; sleep well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oslo Trough

28 x 23 x 10H"

After selling the Helsinki troughs as fast as I could make them earlier this fall, I decided that it needed at least one companion design.  The result was the Oslo trough pictured above.  

The hypertufa is cast over a solid core of laminated foam board, which is them covered in stretchwrap to ensure easy release.  After two days of curing, the trough is strong enough to be rolled over and worked with a wire brush, hammer, and scraper.  Each trough is similarly shaped but has a unique surface.

The Helsinki trough (left) and Oslo trough (right).

Sisters seen from above

I cast around 15 troughs in November, about half of them Helsinkis and Oslos.  The weather was cool, perfect for casting hypertufa.  To avoid freezing, any trough cast after mid-November got sealed in plastic and left to cure for at least thirty days in the stable temperature of the basement.  I write the date of casting on the outside of the plastic and wait for a month like some insane baker for my troughs to finish.  The picture above is the bottom of my driveway.  

Let it snow.  I've got a jump on spring.